We had a chat about filament with Sander Strijbos of ColorFabb at the recent 3D Printshow in London. While there are quite a few vendors marketing filament, most of their innovations involve new colors of PLA and ABS plastic. Not so with ColorFabb, who explore the edge of the envelope in filament technology.
Strijbos explained that their Dutch company, Helian Polymers, has been preparing plastics for the molding industry for many years - and has gained significant experience in the chemistry and mechanics of many plastics.
Recently Helian opened a new brand focused on filament for the 3D print industry: ColorFabb. They're taking their significant plastic expertise and now applying it to filament production.
What's so innovative? We found these examples in their product shelf:
PLA/PHA Combo: ColorFabb's PLA filament offering isn't actually PLA. It's a blend of PLA and PHA, another biodegradable polymer. The presence of PHA in the mix permits their "PLA" filament to be "less brittle and tougher". If you've had experience with your PLA filament snapping (and, oh boy, have we ever had that problem) you might want to check out their precision quality PLA/PHA filament.
_XT: No one else seems to offer this type of filament, which is said to be a "special amorphous copolyester". It's a low-warp, stronger-than-PLA plastic that's mostly transparent and has a wonderfully soft feel with a shiny look. These very tall prints were made from _XT. Evidently you can carefully dip your _XT prints in acetone to significantly clear the transparency and even make it flexible.
WoodFill: There have been other wood-based filament before, but ColorFabb offers two styles: "Coarse" and "Fine". We've seen examples of both and coarse prints look more like a true wood object than the fine. These can be drilled, sanded and painted just like wood. They even smell like wood!
Does ColorFabb produce ABS plastic? They do not and apparently have no known plans to do so. It's just as well, since PLA is much easier to print with on personal 3D printers.
Currently ColorFabb is developing a network of resellers to delivery their product worldwide.